Teamwork key across all branches of military

After 32 years of active duty and more than 3,500 hours of flying time as a command pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Maj. Gen. William Welser III still knows the importance of teamwork–especially when it spans all branches of the military.

“In today’s environment you cannot succeed, you cannot be successful without the other services,” Welser said. “Joint [service] is where it’s at. We can joke about football [rivalries], but when we go to war, we can’t joke any longer.”

Welser, special assistant to the commander, air mobility command, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, is awaiting Senate confirmation of his third star. Welser spoke at the 56th annual military ball, a joint function between the University Air Force and Army ROTC programs, Friday night in the Union Ballroom.

As cadets graduate and enter an uncertain world, it’s important to remember what they’ve learned in ROTC, Welser said.

“The things that you learn in the cadet core will make you a better officer,” he said. “If you can lead your peers and work with your peers then you can work with anybody else.”

And Welser should know, graduating from the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Buffalo in 1971. He later shifted from aircraft maintenance to flight training, earning his wings in 1975. Since then, Welser has moved up in the ranks, becoming well versed in 26 different airplanes.

He has also served as director of operations, headquarters U.S. transportation command, director of logistics at USTRANSCOM and has commanded at squadron, wing and headquarters levels. But why he has stayed on active duty for more than three decades is a mystery to many of his closest companions.

“I have a lot of friends that say ‘why don’t you get out? You can make a lot more money somewhere else,'” he said. “Why am I here? It’s because we need leadership, we need people with that edge.”

Though the job is never a 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or Monday through Friday deal, it is one that those with the drive to serve their country are ready and eager to make, Welser said.

“It’s this passion, this motivation, it’s the inside thing that we have inside our hearts, it’s this spirit and god leadership that makes our forces want to do that,” he said. “And I would do it all over again if given the opportunity.”